Alabama high school athletes take to the field Thursday to open the 2020 high school football season, despite coronavirus fears. The season opens on Thursday with 22 games, followed by 122 on Friday and four games on Saturday.
There was speculation early on that the global pandemic would halt high school football. Arizona has delayed football season by three weeks. On Monday, California announced that the high school football season will not begin until December at the earliest. Tennessee has postponed the season indefinitely. The earliest they could start is mid-September.
New Mexico has postponed the season to spring, so has Virginia. Michigan is reportedly considering moving high school football to the spring, and South Carolina has suggested canceling the football season altogether if coronavirus cases don’t go down. The Florida High School Athletic Association board of directors voted 11 to 5 to clear high schools to begin play beginning Aug. 24, though individual school systems have been given the option to opt out. Schools will have until Sept. 18 to make the decision on whether to opt-out or not.
The Alabama High School Athletics Association has not waivered and will play the season beginning this week. Alabama is the second state to kick off the high school football season with Utah opening its season last week.
Former Montgomery Quarterback Club president and current board member Perry Hooper Jr. applauded the start of the season.
“I applaud Utah for kicking off the season last Thursday,” Hooper said. “My hat goes off to Executive Director Steve Saverese and his staff at the Alabama High School Athletic Association for developing the appropriate safety protocols for the upcoming season.”
Hooper said that AHSAA has “consulted with the CDC, the NCAA, and other state associations in developing these guidelines.” Hooper said that each individual school system has been empowered to set their own fan attendance guidelines.
Mobile has already announced that they will limit their attendance to just 35 percent of capacity. On Tuesday, Hewitt-Trussville announced that attendance for its home football games this season will be limited to roughly 50 percent of Hewitt-Trussville Stadium capacity. Moody High School has announced very strict limits on ticket sales.
“Coach Saverese knows that there are circumstances that may call for the suspension of the season,” Hooper said. “However, he knows the importance of competing this season. For many communities across the state, a Friday night win for their team will be the first good news since the outbreak began.”
Hooper said that up to 300 Alabama high school seniors are given full or partial scholarships to compete at the collegiate level. “For many student-athletes this is their only path to college,” he said.
At least 1,876 Alabamians have died from COVID-19. The state has had 106,784 diagnosed cases. 1,280 Alabamians are currently in the hospital suffering from complications from COVID-19.